If there’s two things I write more about on this blog than anything else,  it’s this: travels and weather.  I feel like if I’m not traveling then I must be complaining about the extreme weather conditions I live in.  

From my emotional distraught, one would think I spend my summers in the Sahara and my winters in the most northern corners of the Arctic.  Alas, I am merely in Dallas, Texas.  But really, it can be brutal! This winter has been exceptionally brutal at that.  Mind you, I even had small reprieve when I went to India for a few weeks - only to be welcomed back by the Polar Vortex.

I’m all for getting bundled up and looking cute in my Ugg Boots and knitted beanies but let’s be real.  It’s time to shed those layers and enjoy throwing on a simple t-shirt and shorts.  Flip flops seem as ancient as when King Tut and Cleopatra first sported them on the streets of ancient Egypt. Naked toes in strappy sandals….what a concept…how foreign it feels.  

Old man winter you have long over stayed your welcome.  I exile you for the next 10 months only to return in time for a white Christmas.  What’s that? OH, that’s right, I have no such powers.  Here I am, frozen toes and all, praying for Jaykishan to fall asleep sooner rather than later,so I can secretly turn the thermostat a few degrees warmer in hopes for summer dreams as I sleep. 

As I’d mentioned in my last post, there were a couple of “once in a lifetime” type of moments - so here they are! 

  • New Year’s Eve! Spending NYE on a party cruise on the Bosphorus between two continents – mind you this was while I was still suffering from the food poisoning – I think Jaykishan owes me a few favors after I soldiered this for him
  • Turkish Bath! Oh yes, I did a Turkish Bath and I felt like I  was reborn afterwards – by far the best experience ever! (okay I might be a bit biased since having someone bathe you is not for everyone).  I was hesitant to go to the one of the local Hamams(places of Turkish Bath).  I had kept going back and forth on it and after reading that you have to fully undress and someone scrubs you down - Swedish massage, I’m there, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try it.  So, I figured I’d settle for a massage with the hotel spa.  While I was looking through the menu of options I was told that they have a Hamam in the spa for Turkish Baths.  Initially, I was like “nope, I’m a conservative  spa goer, not really sure about this being naked stuff”. Their staff did an excellent job of explaining to me that only one person can be in the Hamam at the time so there’s full privacy, no one else, and I can wear my bathing suit if it makes me more comfortable.  **Enter JayKishan: Do one thing that takes you out of your comfort zone every trip. ** And so, I put both feet in and jumped in! I have to give major kudos to the Renaissance Spa for the absolutely incredible staff that they have!
  • International Date Night! – By our last night my stomach was starting to feel somewhat functional – while I was getting all reborn at the Spa – my romantic husband(oh he’s going to kill me for saying that) But I think he deserves major points for this. Back to my story – So while I was gone he went and did some research and found out that the Istanbul Museum of Modern art has this great restaurant right on the Bosphorus and reserved us a table with a water view.  It’s one experience to be on the Bosphorus and an experience all its’ own sitting at a candle lit table taking in the lights of the city over dinner! From where I was sitting, I could see the lights from Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque, one of the most surreal moments I have had.  

Now it’s time to go through all the pictures and get a few posted on here! 

I’ve been meaning to put up a recap of the trip to Turkey, so here it is! We visited Istanbul for about 4 days before we headed back to the good ole USA. I’ve bulleted my highlights below.

  • Visiting Istanbul in January means “VERY COLD” – not Polar Vortex cold like we just had here in the States - but still cold
  • English is NO ONE’s 1st language - it might not even be their 2nd or 3rd – but as long as you stick to some touristy areas your fine
  • I have now made a vow to never eat pizza internationally ever again! Here’s the story – After eating mainly Indian food for 2 weeks we were pretty excited to eat something other than Biryani, Manchurian or Sandwiches.  We found a cute Italian restaurant in Istanbul’s “posh/douchey” area and had what appeared to be just a regular Margarita pizza…WRONG – What followed was 4 days of agonizing pain.  For the remainder of the time, I pretty much just ate toast! Jaykishan got sick too but his stomach is clearly a lot stronger than mine so he was fine by day two.  We all know how I work.  Sadly, I experienced the rest of Istanbul in a much more reserved way. 
  • Turkish Tea!! The one thing that I found my stomach could handle after the pizza incident was a nice little cup of Turkish Tea! I’m addicted! I even bought some back with me! Cups and saucers and all!  I do need to work on my tea skills though, I attempted making it for Arjun when he came over – everything short of an epic fail but he gave me some for points for making an effort.
  • History, history, history, so much amazing history in this city – yes, places like India have way more history but it’s nice to go and experience the history of other countries and cultures.  We visited Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and a few other places. Each and everyone was so incredible. I tried to catch every detail that I could on my camera. 

Istanbul was filled with a lot of “Once in a lifetime” type of moments so I’ve made another blog post to details those… more to come! 

Turkish Apple Tea

Yesterday, I had my first ever street food experience in India. In all the trips I have made to the Motherland I have never experienced the street food. Unless, one is on the “Food Poisoning” diet to lose quick 10 lbs, street food in India is usually avoided by tourists. To give you an idea what street food is, it’s basically our American version of food trucks. Our food trucks are like the great children of these Indian “Laaris” – aka Indian Food Trucks. Let’s be real in a country that is as old as Earth these Laaris were around way before food trucks.

Every night these Laaris come out and line up along a local street. They offer every cuisine from Pistachio flavored Ice Cream, Chinese, Indian, you name it. Jaykishan’s cousin was taking us “out” to dinner yesterday. How “out” I didn’t realize until we pulled up to these Laaris and hopped out.

Naturally, I had an internal panic attack, my thoughts exactly were:

“crap what am I going to do”

“I can’t eat this, I’ll die!”

“OMG, I’m going to die from food poisoning!!”

“I can’t say no, that’ll be rude”

“what do I do, what do I do!!!!!”

Looking to Jay was no use – we all know every trip, I must do something I don’t want to thanks to him. He was already narrowing down which Laaris he was going to visit. All I could do was say quick prayer to the food gods that I would be making no repeated to visits to the white throne in the next 24 hours and followed suit.

Luckily, his cousin did guide us to the laaris that are “suppose” to be clean and sanitary. Plus side is that you do get to see you food made right in front of you and the grill they cook the food is scorching hot. All I could hope for is that it was so hot it killed any and all bacteria. Seeing the fact that it’s been 24 hours and I’m sitting on this swing typing this entry and not laying in a hospital bed hooked up to any IV for dehydration from food poisoning has to be a good sign… Right?